If a robot limbo contest ever materializes, I got dibs on STAR, a new 3D-printed robot that can flatten itself and slide under even the smallest gaps.
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STAR - short for Sprawl Tuned Autonomous Robot - was developed by students at UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab and was modeled after an insect's ability to squeeze through tight spaces.
Made entirely out of 3D-printed plastic, except for the electronics, STAR weighs just 2.6 ounces and, on a smooth flat surface, can skitter approximately 11.6 miles per hour on three spoked "legs" that look like windmill blades. But the robot's biggest feature is its ability to change shape and adapt for different situations and surfaces. In its inverted "V" shape, STAR can climb over taller obstacles and rougher terrain, but then it can flatten to slip under a closed door. If the robot ever gets stuck on its back, it can simply flip itself back into the "V" position, essentially make it unable to get stuck.
Powering the lightweight limbo bot is a 4-volt lithium polymer battery, giving it enough juice to run full speed for 30 minutes on a single charge. A small DC motor powers each set of legs.
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While STAR seems like it would make a good addition to any rescue, exploration and/or surveillance squad, for now developers are just having fun taking it for test drives around the office. Check out footage of STAR in action here.
Credit: Biomimetic Millisystems Lab